Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent

Democracy's Prisoner: Eugene V. Debs, the Great War, and the Right to Dissent

by Ernest Freeberg
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0674057201

ISBN-13: 9780674057203

Pub. Date: 10/30/2010

Publisher: Harvard

In 1920, socialist leader Eugene V. Debs ran for president while serving a ten-year jail term for speaking against America’s role in World War I. Though many called Debs a traitor, others praised him as a prisoner of conscience, a martyr to the cause of free speech. Nearly a million Americans agreed, voting for a man whom the government had branded an enemy

Overview

In 1920, socialist leader Eugene V. Debs ran for president while serving a ten-year jail term for speaking against America’s role in World War I. Though many called Debs a traitor, others praised him as a prisoner of conscience, a martyr to the cause of free speech. Nearly a million Americans agreed, voting for a man whom the government had branded an enemy to his country.

In a beautifully crafted narrative, Ernest Freeberg shows that the campaign to send Debs from an Atlanta jailhouse to the White House was part of a wider national debate over the right to free speech in wartime. Debs was one of thousands of Americans arrested for speaking his mind during the war, while government censors were silencing dozens of newspapers and magazines. When peace was restored, however, a nationwide protest was unleashed against the government’s repression, demanding amnesty for Debs and his fellow political prisoners. Led by a coalition of the country’s most important intellectuals, writers, and labor leaders, this protest not only liberated Debs, but also launched the American Civil Liberties Union and changed the course of free speech in wartime.

The Debs case illuminates our own struggle to define the boundaries of permissible dissent as we continue to balance the right of free speech with the demands of national security. In this memorable story of democracy on trial, Freeberg excavates an extraordinary episode in the history of one of America’s most prized ideals.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674057203
Publisher:
Harvard
Publication date:
10/30/2010
Pages:
392
Sales rank:
1,013,678
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     ix
Prologue: Free Speech Campaign     1
Dangerous Man     7
Never Be a Soldier     24
War Declarations     42
Canton Picnic     67
Cleveland     83
Appeal     110
Long Trolley to Prison     134
Moundsville     148
Atlanta Penitentiary     174
An Amnesty Business on Every Block     190
Candidate 9653     203
The Trials of A. Mitchell Palmer     215
The Last Campaign     236
Lonely Obstinacy     257
Free Speech and Normalcy     268
Last Flicker of the Dying Candle     301
Epilogue: Amnesty and the Birth of Civil Liberties     319
Notes     329
Archives Consulted     365
Acknowledgments     367
Index     369

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